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Tag: sonia sotomayor

Sotomayor Laments 'Stench' Created By Right-Wing Partisans On High Court

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and examining the constitutionality of Mississippi’s highly restrictive abortion law. Abortion rights defenders fear that the case will result in Roe v. Wade being overturned. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, speaking on Wednesday, was highly critical of the Mississippi law’s supporters — expressing concerns that the Supreme Court will be viewed as overly politicized.

Justices appointed by Republican presidents now have a 6-3 majority on the High Court, and Sotomayor is among the three justices appointed by Democratic presidents. The Court moved even more to the right in 2020 when liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and was replaced by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a Donald Trump appointee. The two other right-wing justices Trump appointed during his presidency are Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Sotomayor, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009, pointed to the fact that the new case is driven by political expediency and as the culmination of a carefully crafted agenda, rather than being the result of a particularly pertinent legal question or a new set of circumstances.

“Now, the sponsors of this bill, the House bill, in Mississippi said: We’re doing it because we have new justices," she explained. "The newest ban that Mississippi has put in place, the six-week ban, the Senate sponsor said: 'We’re doing it because we have new justices on the Supreme Court.' Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? I don’t see how it is possible.”

Alabama Republicans Target Disabled With New Voting Restrictions

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

First, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey came after women, signing into law in 2019 a bill outlawing abortions, even for victims of rape and incest, except when medically necessary. Then, she targeted transgender youth and signed into law on April 23 a bill prohibiting those children from participating in public school sports. Now, Ivey's targeting people with disabilities.

The Republican governor signed a bill into law on Wednesday to ban curbside voting and in effect make casting ballots more difficult for people with disabilities. The unfortunate law prohibits placing voting machines outside of voting places and prevents poll workers from taking ballots into or out of voting places except when done as part of the established process to transport ballots. The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Wes Allen was passed by the Alabama House of Representatives in a 74-to-25 vote on March 18 and pushed through by the Senate in a 25-to-6 vote on May 17, the last day of the legislative session, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. The ACLU of Alabama tweeted: "With our state in the middle of a devastating pandemic and economic downturn, what is the Alabama Legislature doing? Passing bills that burden or attack Alabamians."

Ivey didn't mention the curbside voting ban's potential impact on people with disabilities in her press release bragging about rubber stamping Republican Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill's voter suppression effort. "Our freedom of speech is rooted in our ability to vote," she instead said. "A strong election process is what sets our democracy apart from every other country in the world." Protecting the electoral process has become a popular guise for voter suppression tactics embraced throughout the country among Republicans, following a triple loss for the party last year in the White House and in two U.S. Senate runoff races, effectively flipping the Senate from majority Republican to majority Democratic.

Maria Schell-Cannon, a mother and educator, called the new Alabama law "disgraceful' in a tweet on Wednesday. "This doesn't prevent fraud, just makes it more difficult 4 the disabled & elderly 2 gt 2 the polls," she said in the tweet. "Sad! The GOP is destroying democracy." Randy Wilson, a real estate investor and father, tweeted on Thursday: "No lottery. No expanded medicaid. No effort to rewrite the antiquated constitution. BUT, we made it a priority on the last day in session to ban curb side voting without a single case of curbside voting or any significant voter fraud. C'mon Alabama..."

Voters and activists brought up the subject of curbside voting last year in a federal lawsuit criticizing voting laws that didn't take into account health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a federal judge sided with activists, AL.com reported. Merrill and Attorney General Steve Marshall, however, successfully appealed the decision, getting the U.S. Supreme Court's permission to ban curbside voting. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the dissenting opinion that Merrill "does not meaningfully dispute that the plaintiffs have disabilities, that COVID-19 is disproportionately likely to be fatal to these plaintiffs, and that traditional-in-person voting will meaningfully increase their risk of exposure."

Sotomayor also highlighted in her dissent the account of Howard Porter, Jr., a plaintiff in the case and a Black man in his 70s with asthma and Parkinson's Disease. He said in district court "many of my (ancestors) even died to vote. And while I don't mind dying to vote, I think we're past that. We're past that time." Alabama Republicans apparently disagree.

In Stunning Rebuke To Kavanaugh,  Sotomayor Warns Of Radical Trump Court

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered a strong warning to the American people and a strong rebuke of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the newest far right wing Justices on the Trump-shaped conservative-majority Supreme Court in a blistering but brilliant dissent handed down Thursday.

Justice Sotomayor warned this newly-constructed court, unevenly weighted with six justices (ranging from highly conservative to far right wing religious extremist,) is "willing to overrule precedent without even acknowledging it is doing so, much less providing any special justification."

That warning is similar to those posed by legal experts from the left who were extremely opposed to then-President Donald Trump's final Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. Justice Barrett's judicial opinions made clear she will not honor precedent, known as stare decisis. Without that legal guardrail many decidedly settled law targets of conservatives, from the right to choose an abortion to the right to marry, could be struck down by the "Trump Court."

The case Justice Sotomayor used to deliver her warning and her criticism of Justice Kavanaugh, is Jones v. Mississippi. It centers on a 15-year old boy who murdered his father, claimed self defense, and was sentenced to life in prison. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled life in prison for minors convicted of "non-homicide crimes" constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, unless that minor has been found to be "incorrigible," or unable to be rehabilitated. (The ACLU's position is regardless of the type of crime, life in prison for minors is cruel and unusual.)

On Thursday Justice Kavanaugh, who himself has a history of disturbing acts in college, as his confirmation hearing proved, wrote the 6-3 majority opinion in which he upheld the lower court ruling that the defendant was rightly sentenced to life in prison despite no finding of whether or not he is able to be rehabilitated.

"How low this Court's respect for stare decisis has sunk," Justice Sotomayor warned.

"Not long ago, that doctrine was recognized as a pillar of the 'rule of law,' critical to 'keep the scale of justice even and steady, and not liable to waver with every new judge's opinion,'" she wrote, citing Kavanaugh's own opinion in a previous ruling.

"Now, it seems, the Court is willing to overrule precedent without even acknowledging it is doing so, much less providing any special justification. It is hard to see how that approach is 'founded in the law rather than in the proclivities of individuals,'" she added, again using Kavanaugh's own words against him.

She called the ruling a "contortion" of previous rulings, and writes: "As this Court has consistently reiterated, 'a departure from precedent demands special justification.'"

"The Court offers no such justification today. Nor could it," she charged.

"Instead of addressing these factors, the Court simply rewrites Miller and Montgomery," she observes, naming the two cases the provide the precedent today's ruling effectively overrules, "to say what the Court now wishes they had said, and then denies that it has done any such thing."

Slate's legal expert Mark Joseph Stern calls the ruling in the case "barbarous," Sotomayor's warning "ominous," and her criticism of Kavanaugh "one of the most savage passages she has ever written."

University of Michigan Law School asst. professor Leah Litman:


The U.S. Supreme Court has now made emphatically clear it is an activist court and "settled law" is fair game.

Civil rights activists, and the American people who value their rights, consider yourselves warned.

Sotomayor Rebukes Court Majority For Jeoparding Rights Of Florida Voters

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a forceful rebuke to her colleagues on the Supreme Court Thursday as the majority decided to leave in place a lower court's ruling protecting Florida's effort to disenfranchise nearly 1 million voters.

The Supreme Court had been faced with the prospect of weighing in on a battle over a Florida law requiring people who have been convicted of felonies to pay all related fines to the state before they can vote. In 2018, Florida passed a popular referendum by a large margin permitting people with felonies on their records to participate in elections, but the state government — clearly fearful this change will hurt Republican officeholders — tried to find a loophole. So the new rule puts another hurdle in place for people who have committed felonies to jump over before they can register to vote.

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Sotomayor: Supreme Court Excused Trump’s Bigotry In DACA Decision

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Many immigrants and their advocates won a major victory on Thursday when the Supreme Court issued an opinion, drafted by Chief Justice John Roberts, blocking the Trump administration's efforts to rescind a program protecting undocumented people who arrived in the United States before they were adults. But Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from one part of Roberts' majority ruling, even as she and the other three liberal justices concurred with the chief justice for the bulk of the decision.

The case examined the Trump administration's decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that was implemented under President Barack Obama. In a split 5-4 decision, the majority of the court found that the Department of Homeland Security gave an insufficient rationale for rescinding DACA and determined that the decision was impermissibly "arbitrary and capricious." The Trump administration may still be able to end the program, but it will have to go through a thorough review process before it tries again.

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In Fiery Dissent, Sotomayor Rebukes Right-Wing Justices For Fealty To Trump

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a devastating conclusion to a dissenting opinion released Friday, drawing attention to her conservative colleagues’ callousness toward inmates facing the death penalty and contrasting it with their excessive fealty to President Donald Trump.

Her dissent broke from the court’s decision to grant the Trump administration a stay in the case of Wolf v. Cook County. In the case, a lower court had issued a preliminary injunction blocking implementation in Illinois of Trump’s new “public charge” rule, which places restrictions on immigrants who it believes might use certain government services. Last week, the Trump administration had asked the Supreme Court to overturn the injunction and issue a stay to allow the rule to go into effect while the legal challenges continue.

The five conservative justices ruled in favor of the stay, while the liberal justices — including Sotomayor — opposed it.

But, as Economist reporter Steven Mazie pointed out, Sotomayor was the only one to write a formal dissent — and it included strong words for the conservatives.

She argued that “this Court is partly to blame for the breakdown in the appellate process. That is because the Court—in this case, the New York cases, and many others—has been all too quick to grant the Government’s ‘reflexiv[e]’ requests.”

She continued:

Perhaps most troublingly, the Court’s recent behavior on stay applications has benefited one litigant over all others. This Court often permits executions—where the risk of irreparable harm is the loss of life—to proceed, justifying many of those decisions on purported failures “to raise any potentially meritorious claims in a timely manner.”

Yet the Court’s concerns over quick decisions wither when prodded by the Government in far less compelling circumstances— where the Government itself chose to wait to seek relief, and where its claimed harm is continuation of a 20-year status quo in one State. I fear that this disparity in treatment erodes the fair and balanced decisionmaking process that this Court must strive to protect.

In other words, she accused the conservative majority on the court of too easily dismissing the plight of people on death row, while jumping at the chance to do relatively trivial favors for the administration.

“A remarkable accusation for a justice to lob against her colleagues,” noted Slate reporter Mark Joseph Stern. “And tragically accurate.”

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Danziger: The Rookie

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.